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Ozempic babies? Are weight loss drugs leading to surprise pregnancies?

Costco now offers weight-loss program that includes Ozempic and Wegovy
Posted at 4:37 PM, May 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-08 17:57:54-04

(WXYZ) — In today’s Health Alert, women are reporting unexpected pregnancies while taking weight loss medication. It's been coined “Ozempic babies," which refers to those using Ozempic and similar medications for diabetes or weight loss.

But is there a link between these drugs and surprise pregnancies, and just how safe are they?

There are women reporting pregnancy as a surprise side effect. There could be a few reasons as to why this is happening. Both Ozempic and its competitor, Mounjaro, are prescribed for diabetes and have twin medicines approved for weight loss - Wegovy and Zepbound. These drugs belong to a group called GLP-1 receptor agonists. They help patients produce insulin, lower blood sugar levels, and slow down food in the gut. People feel fuller faster, therefore eat less and lose weight.

Now, losing weight can affect how often women ovulate. Just losing a small amount of weight, like 5 to 15 percent of body weight, can improve ovulation and make it easier to conceive. Plus, experts speculate that GLP-1 drugs might interfere with how well birth control pills work by slowing down the medicine absorption. In fact, both Mounjaro and Zepbound warn about decreased birth control pill efficacy in their prescribing information. And Ozempic and Wegovy warn about the absorption of any drugs taken orally.

Yes, the excitement of pregnancy can be overshadowed by worries, particularly as pregnant women or those planning to conceive were not part of clinical trials.

However, a few studies examining babies and mothers who took GLP-1s early in pregnancy haven't raised major concerns. Nonetheless, researchers say we need to learn more, especially because of concerning animal studies.

Research has indicated that high doses of these drugs in rats and mice can result in smaller offspring and sometimes birth defects. Ozempic has been linked to structural fetal problems and growth issues in pregnant rats, with some babies dying before birth. In rabbits and monkeys, there were pregnancy losses and maternal lost weight. These problems could be due to the drugs causing animals to eat less, leading to inadequate nutrient supply for proper fetal development.

The companies that produce Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro, and Zepbound are currently collecting data on the risk of early pregnancy exposure. An ongoing study of Wegovy is slated to be completed in August 2027.

In the meantime, if you’re planning a family and are taking these medications, it’s best to stop them two months before attempting to conceive. If using taking birth control, consider adding a backup method. And if you end up with an unexpected pregnancy, stop the drug immediately if you’re taking it for weight loss and speak with a physician.